The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Conservationists, not hunters, are saving our wildlife

An aggressive wild turkey was pecking visitors at the Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens in D.C. in April. (Joe Cashman/Kenilworth Park and Aquatic Gardens)

In his May 5 Thursday Opinion essay, “Those Anacostia turkeys are a miracle of conservation,” Keith Urbahn neglected to mention the factors and efforts by true conservationists (non-hunters) that brought wild turkeys back from the brink of extinction after hunters slaughtered them with reckless abandon.

One element of the species’ recovery was the Great Depression. When a lack of income forced small farmers and rural residents into cities, turkeys rebounded. And though the Pittman-Robertson Act has generated a large amount of money for habitat restoration and other initiatives, it didn’t do so with hunter dollars. Less than 4 percent of the U.S. population hunts, and the 96 percent that doesn’t still pays the excise tax on sporting equipment that the act established. Nevadans for Responsible Wildlife Management analyzed funding for U.S. wildlife programs and found that about 95 percent of federal, 88 percent of nonprofit and 94 percent of total funding for wildlife conservation and management come from the non-hunting public.

Hunting is rarely done for subsistence. It is a blood sport. Hunters’ efforts are focused on ensuring a plentiful supply of the species they enjoy killing, their living targets. That’s why you’ll never see hunters wage a “Save the Pollinators” campaign.

Emily Jones, Frederick

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